Why has wearing a mask become such a divisive issue? (Citizen file)

Editorial: Mask wearing advice has turned into polarizing war

Somehow, this innocuous recommendation has become a polarizing war for some.

Why have masks become such a divisive subject?

During the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been asked to do a number of things to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Initially, we were all asked to stay at home as much as possible in self-isolation. We have been asked to regularly wash our hands with soap and water, or to use hand sanitizer if this is not possible. We have been asked to try not to touch our faces. We’ve been asked not to go out if we are sick.

We’ve been asked to stay two metres (six feet) away from others not in our immediate circle. Many businesses shut down temporarily. We’ve been asked to line up outside so that only a small number of people could be in a shop at once.

At first, wearing masks was not part of the health recommendations, but as we got a better handle on the virus and how it spreads, public health officials began to recommend wearing them in some situations, such as when we are indoors and cannot avoid being closer than two metres to others.

RELATED: Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

RELATED: UVic political scientist wants B.C. pulp mills to help produce masks, gowns

Somehow, this innocuous recommendation has become a polarizing war for some.

There have always been a small number of people who argue that the virus is not real and that the pandemic has been overblown. They take the success of our measures to curb the spread as proof that there was never anything to worry about. They are, of course, mistaken.

But even among those who otherwise are on board with public health advice, for some reason masks became controversial. In the U.S. it became a partisan political issue, and what happens to the south does tend to bleed across our borders.

Some argue that this is about our freedoms being curtailed.

Really? Why is wearing a mask for a few minutes seen as such an imposition? This is, at most, a small inconvenience, not something chipping away at your soul. Masks have somehow become the toilet paper of later-stage COVID precautions. A sense of proportion is needed, here.

We must not see it as a cure-all. It does not replace other public health measures, especially distancing and good hand hygiene, but in the interests of doing everything possible to allow us to keep things open, this is another tool in our COVID kit.

In conclusion, just wear a mask when you’re asked to if you’re inside with a bunch of people, or you can’t distance. What have you really got to lose?

Nothing.

What have you got to gain?

Possibly helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

CoronavirusEditorials

Just Posted

Unfiled cases could backlog B.C. provincial court system

Provincial court registry and proceedings in Victoria have reopened

Advocates for the homeless prepare for winter in a pandemic

Winter presents unique challenges to people experiencing homelessness this year in Campbell River

Stress weighs heavy on those working in veterinary health

Vancouver Island vet techs urge public to be patient, kind

GERDING: Forest industry facing tough times

Upcoming protests seeks change in how B.C.’s forests are harvested

Decision on judicial review of Cowichan Motorsport decision could take months

VIMC said it was assured by North Cowichan that expansion would be allowed

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

Port McNeill business owners making space for outdoor socializing

Community focused on creating more places for people to gather

Work set to start this month on two new Langford schools

Farmer Construction Ltd. will utilize SD62 students to work on the $55.2 million project

Industry running in new direction, says Vancouver Island run director

Popular Sidney by the Sea Run/Walk goes virtual

Nanaimo’s Cinefest film festival to be held online this year due to COVID-19

CineCentral Filmmakers Society’s annual festival to feature films made in 48 hours

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Another Sayward councillor resigns ahead of November byelection

Council will be able to maintain quorum until byelection is held, says Municipal Affairs

Most Read